Dessert Disasters: Sometimes Pie Takes the Cake

Dessert Disasters: Sometimes Pie Takes the Cake

Picture it: you’re on your couch, flipping between Cake Boss and Cake Wars. Suddenly, it occurs to you: you can do this. You can make a cake. You’ll be the cake boss, victor of the cake wars. And you’ll win the admiration of your friends at Becky’s next potluck party. After all, it looks so easy: why not try to make a simple layered cake?

If you’re like me, this situation may lead to learning a lesson — or lessons! — the hard way. While reality shows like these make baking look “easy as cake,” in reality, it’s no cake walk. So, in the interest of sparing you from pain and sorrow, here’s what I learned when my attempt to become cake boss became the boss of me.

Various measuring utensils

Size… It Matters

Remember that episode when someone made an Eiffel Tower cake that looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa? Well, now I know why. One way that a layered cake can turn into a disaster is the size of each layer. When making a layered cake, you want to measure out each layer evenly to ensure that one won’t be thicker than the others. When a layer is too thick, it adds extra weight to the cake. Then, the cake is more likely to crumble all over your freshly cleaned countertop when you add another layer.

Cake layer on cooling rack
Temperature and Patience

My mother always said that patience is a virtue — and baking has taught me it’s one virtue that I don’t have. Apparently, layered cakes can also fall apart if the layers are not cooled. After removing the layers from the oven, you want to let them cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. After the layers have cooled, carefully flip them onto a cooling rack or a flat pan in the freezer. This allows the layers to continue to cool. If the layers aren’t cooled enough, they’re very tender and likely to fall apart in the process of adding the layers, as I learned from experience.

Multiple evened out cake layers
Level the Playing Field

Once the layers have cooled, you’d think it’d be time to build the cake by putting the layers on top of each other. But this is approximately 100% wrong. Instead, you need to make sure the layers are all level and flat. Using a knife, carefully carve the top of each layer so that it’s as flat as possible. If the layers aren’t flat, the lopsided cake will eventually crumble, falling apart and onto your nice Pier 1 runner rug. And not even icing can save the day for an unleveled cake. While using icing in between each layer may seem to even it out, your cake may still crumble.

Heading to a Pot Luck? DON’T Take the Cake!

Real talk: layer cakes take a lot of time and a lot of patience. I started out expecting a masterpiece but ended up with a candidate for a Cake Fails listicle. After losing my own personal Cake War, I felt the full agony of my flour-covered defeat. I couldn’t even face the thought of facing a freezer full of perfectly layered cakes at my local bakery. 

Edolyn's Pecan Pie at Market Table.

Luckily, Market Table offers a solution to my dessert dilemma: Edolyn’s Homemade Pies. Made with care from a family recipe, these single-serving beauties take the cake when it comes to fast, delicious and, most importantly, no-fail desserts. Pick up some Pecan, Lemon Chess, and Sweet Potato pies to impress your guests at your next gathering. Pro-Tip: you can even say you made them yourself. Market Table won’t tell. So if at cake you don’t succeed, try Market Table for Edolyn’s pies!

How to Create a Weekly Meal Plan for Your Family

How to Create a Weekly Meal Plan for Your Family

Do you find yourself struggling to find a recipe at the last minute? Never seem to have what you need from the grocery store? Have no fear! Creating a weekly meal plan can make after-school evenings run much more smoothly!

 

Choose the Meals Your Family Loves

Start by making a list of all the meals and snacks your family likes to eat on a regular basis. Pro-tip: get some sticky tabs or magnets and write the name of each meal on a tab. Place them all in a notebook or on your refrigerator, spread out so that they’re easily accounted for. These meals will be the building blocks of a weekly meal plan for your family. 

 

 

Chart It UpSticky notes on refrigerator.

If you went with sticky tabs, create a chart with a column for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Add rows for each day of the week. This layout allows you to easily account for each meal and snack you’ll be responsible for throughout the week. Although there are often occasions where you’ll go out to eat, it’s always better to have a plan that you stray from than to have no plan at all.

 

 

Organize the Days

Meal calendar.Now, decide which meals should fall into which slot. When this process is completed, you should have a planned dish for every meal and snack throughout the week. When you get home from work, it’ll be so easy to just check the meal chart and start cooking. You also won’t have to worry about changing the meal halfway through preparation, as your family can see the meal plan. You can even collaborate on the plan before the week begins to avoid any arguments. As a bonus, this is an excellent way to teach the kids about balance and nutrition!

 

Check the DietFoods for well balanced breakfast.

Ever wondered if you’ve been giving your kids enough nutrients? This meal planning system makes it easy to keep your family’s diet (or, more often, dietsin check. You can easily outline and implement your family’s dietary needs with a structured meal plan. Also, seeing the meal plan spread out before you will make it easy to find places where leafy greens can be best disguised.

 

Shop and Prep

Healthy meal prep.No more opening the fridge on a Wednesday night to find an empty milk carton! When you know what dishes you’ll be preparing a week ahead, you can easily buy everything you need from the grocery store in one go. Go through your meal chart and make a grocery list of all the items you’ll need for the week. After purchasing them, you can even prep for the meals ahead of time. Maybe a lot of your meals require chopped veggies or peeled fruit. Maybe you have to soak some lentils for another dish. Finishing the prep work for multiple meals once or twice a week is a huge time saver.

 

Of course, not everyone has time to meal prep or plan. That’s where Market Table comes in! Our freezer meals and prepared dishes offer options for the whole family — just pop them in the oven and have a healthy, delicious meal in no time. Stumped when it comes to lunch? We’ve got you covered there, too: you can pre-order and pick up our Light Lunchboxes, saving you time and sanity.

Meal Prep: It’s Good for Your Health

Meal Prep: It’s Good for Your Health

What’s meal prepping? The idea is simple: you plan and prepare ingredients for the coming week’s meals. This could be as small as cutting veggies or as much as making a whole meal beforehand. It’s a simple and easy way to make meals effortless — and it’s easy to get started. 

Plan ahead

If you want to start meal prepping, planning is key. Put together recipes for the meals you want to eat this week. Make a list of the ingredients you’ll need. Go grocery shopping in advance, perhaps on a Saturday so there’s no pressure. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your ingredients. For instance, if you get a can of beans that’s more than one serving, try finding a good way to use the rest. This article offers ten options for leftover beans.

 

Cover the basicsChopped veggies in white bowls.

Once you have recipes and ingredients, do as much in advance as you can. Cut vegetables, season meat and put whatever you can into food storage containers. A good rule of thumb: prepare the ingredients enough so that the actual meal only takes ten minutes to make. That way, you’re not taking up too much time or effort and you’re eating well. Ideally, you can just microwave one bowl and eat it. Sometimes that doesn’t work out, but as long as your meals are easier to make, then you’re benefiting from meal prepping.

 

Woman wearing athletic shoes eats lunch.Prep for your health

Prepping is a great way to make cooking easier, but also to make meals healthier. Try making a larger meal for lunch. Make your dinner simple and healthy. This is a great way to stay fit. Your body is better at digesting and burning off what you eat for lunch since you do more after eating. Use a template to keep yourself motivated and prevent burn-out while scheduling recipes. Also, plan for nights you want to eat out or to use leftovers from another meal. Try to have a few back-up recipes that you can make with no hassle in case your meal prep gets ruined. It happens to everybody!

 

Make the most out of itBusy woman eats healthy lunch at desk.

The great thing about meal prepping is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Here at Market Table, we do the prep for you with our Light Lunchboxes. Not only are they delicious, but they can fit any diet. Our Southwest Chicken Burrito Bowl is packed with flavor and it’s gluten-free. The Cilantro Lime Chicken with Cauliflower Rice makes for a tasty paleo or Atkins-friendly meal. You can pre-order our Light Lunchboxes by Wednesday at 6 p.m. and pick them up on Sunday. And if you need a fast, last-minute meal fix, we’ll always have some options in-store.

 

Text by Cameron Sullivan

What’s in Season This Spring?

What’s in Season This Spring?

Grocery stores tend to keep the customers’ favorite produce in-store year-round, but that doesn’t mean that produce is fresh. In fact, most fruits and vegetables only grow during a particular season. When you eat produce in season, it’ll taste fresh and flavorful. As an added bonus, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint in the process. Here’s a list of the fruits and veggies in season this spring. 

 

Apricots

The best time to buy apricots is May to July. Look for apricots that have a golden color and are firm to the touch. To ripen an apricot, you can leave it in a paper bag at room temperature. If it’s already ripe, it’ll last for a couple of days if stored in a fridge. Apricot is a sweet fruit with a hint of sour, so it’s a great option for desserts like pies and cobblers. It also pairs well with more savory combinations like crème fraîche or as a salsa.

 

Strawberries

Even though strawberries are known as a summer fruit, they’re in season during late spring. Strawberries are best from May to July. The best berries will be a bright red and have fresh green caps. Once you buy strawberries, it’s best to eat them within two or three days. To make them stay fresh a little bit longer, spread out the berries in a airtight container and keep it in the fridge. You probably know how delicious strawberries are in jams or smoothies. However, strawberries are more versatile than you think. Try adding them to pizza or a cucumber salad.

 

Asparagus

Asparagus is in season from March to June. When picking asparagus in the grocery store, look for firm stalks with closed tips. Unfortunately, once asparagus is picked, it quickly loses its flavor. If you were planning on making a recipe with asparagus later on in the week, store it in the fridge and wrap a damp paper towel around the bottom of the stalks. Still, the flavor is best if you eat it the same day that you buy it. While it’s fresh, grill the asparagus and cover it with olive oil, parmesan cheese and garlic. You can also get a little bit more adventurous and make an asparagus tart.

 

Rhubarb

The best time to eat rhubarb is from April to August. When choosing rhubarb, look for crisp and firm stalks that have a lot of color. Luckily, rhubarb can be stored for around a week or two in the fridge. It also freezes well if you don’t eat your rhubarb within those two weeks. There’s always the classic rhubarb pie, but with such a strong tart flavor, rhubarb goes great in a variety of desserts.

 

Artichoke

While artichokes can be grown year-round, they taste best if they are harvested from March to May. Fresh artichokes have a good color and tightly-closed leaves. If you need to store an artichoke, add a little bit of water to the leaves and place it in a plastic bag to keep in the fridge. There are several different ways to prepare artichoke, but first you have to figure out how to deconstruct and cook it. Once you get past that, you can use artichokes for dip, grilled cheeses, pesto and more.

 

If you want to eat seasonally but don’t feel like cooking, let Market Table do the cooking for you! From our fresh cafe salads and sandwiches to our meal kits and prepared foods, we strive to bring only the freshest ingredients to your and your family’s plates.

Text by Katherine Polcari

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep More Efficient

5 Ways to Make Meal Prep More Efficient

We’ve all experienced times where a meal has taken longer than anticipated to prepare. In fact, many consider time management to be the most stressful part of cooking. Some may even admit to being too tired to enjoy the meal after putting all that effort into it. Finding efficient ways to prepare meals cuts down on stress and makes cooking — not to mention eating! — more enjoyable. Here are a few tricks of the trade to make meal preparation go as smoothly as possible.

Tools of the trade

Your cooking utensils are an important part of your process. Make sure all of your utensils and cookware are ready to use. Dull knives, for example, can seriously slow down prep time. Also, you don’t want to prep an entire meal for your slow cooker only to discover that it’s shorted out. Pull out your cast iron cookware and check its condition. If it needs to be seasoned, take time to do so before you cook. Also, make sure that you have all of the utensils and cookware necessary for your recipe. This all goes a long way towards making meal prep go faster.

Make a list, check it twice

Another important part of the process is to check your recipe. Then, make a list of ingredients. Even if you’ve used the same recipe countless times, there’s always a chance that you could forget something. Running back and forth to the grocery store definitely makes the cooking process long and frustrating. You can even use your smartphone to make food shopping easier. For example, the ListEase app makes easy lists that can be accessed through your Apple Watch, too. The Grocery Pal app goes a step further, helping you compare prices and find those all-important sales at local supermarkets.

Pre-cut veggies are your friend

You may not have the time (or patience!) to chop up your veggies. Don’t be afraid to try pre-chopped veggies. They may be slightly more expensive, but it’s worth the time you’ll save. Plus, pre-cut onions save on time and tears.

Cook like a TV star

If you’re a fan of television cooking competitions, you’ve probably noticed that no matter the show, the contestants share one trick: making one trip to the refrigerator or pantry. When you pull out those pots and pans, grab a baking sheet or tray. Then, load it up with all of the ingredients you need. That way, you won’t have to keep rushing to the refrigerator and back while trying to keep your pasta pot from boiling over.

Cooking without all the hassle

Sometimes you want a nice, hot, healthy meal, but just don’t have time to prep and cook. Meal kits solve this problem. Because the daunting prep work is done for you, meal kits are fast, easy and tasty. Market Table offers a variety of healthy, delicious and unique meal kits. Plus, they can even help you pair your meal kit with the proper wine. Boost your efficiency level to a thousand and try a meal kit today!

Text by Amber Pope